Archive for 17 June 2009

Moto W233 Renew Review

17 June 2009

I’ve never had a Motorola phone I didn’t like. From the door stop – wheel chock – war hammer – cell phone – multitool that was my first cell phone, acquired because I was living in a truck and people found me hard to find, to the W233 that is my newest cell phone, acquired because once I was easy to find people came to expect it. Here are some thoughts now that I’ve had the phone a while.

The W233 is small and light, but not so small that I feel like I can’t hold on to it. The buttons lock by default so I don’t accidentally dial the wife from the mistresses house (kidding!). A quick ‘Menu – *’ unlocks the keys. It also unlocks automagically on incoming calls.

I love that the phone works as USB mass storage. That’s the way it should be (and was the major reason that I changed my Ipod OS to Rockbox). Mass storage mode makes messing around with screen background and ring tones simple. I also love that the W233 charges via USB. I don’t have to buy and carry another car charger just for the phone, I can use the 12V to USB adapter I already have or just plug into a laptop to charge the phone on the road.

Speaking of charging, the W233 finally beeped and displayed “Low Battery” after five days of use that included lots of playing around with the phone, using it as an alarm clock, a few calls a day and a half hour CBC podcast listened too with the phone in my shirt pocket as I worked around the house. Certainly good enough for me.

Sound quality is good, as is the default call volume. The speaker phone works well enough.

Menus sometimes take a lot of button presses to get somewhere. Take text messaging for example; press Menu, click right to Messages, press Menu (or select key), press Menu again for “Create Messages”, press menu again for “Create Message” (that’s right!), press Menu again for “Text Message”. By the time I get there I forget why I started!

Fortunately there is the “MyMenu” tool. Go to whatever you want to add to MyMenu, press and hold the Menu button, confirm, and the item you chose is assigned to a shortcut. My first MyMenu addition was text message, so now to start a text message all I have to do is press Menu – 1.

Entering text is tedious. There are two modes of text entry, iTap and Tap. iTap is some sort of predictive system that seems to try to predict what your next letter is going to be. When you press a key iTap presents all the letters and the number that key could be, in descending order based on what iTap thinks is most to least likely to be the character you want. If iTap gets it right you press menu or select for that character. If iTap gets it wrong you move the cursor across to the character you want then press menu or select. This doesn’t work for me because when I press a key I have to look and see what order iTap is offering the characters in. Sometimes I’m moving the cursor before I realize that the character I want is not in the same position it was the last couple of times. Grrr. I like Tap better. Just press the key the number of times to get the character you want. Like for ‘z’ press the 9 key four times w-x-y-z and carry on. No need to press menu or select. This I can do without really looking almost, though I do have to be careful as the keys are a bit small for my fingers. I bet Rasterman could teach Motorola a thing or two here. The Illume keyboard on the Freerunner was uncannily predictive. It seemed to read my mind!

The calculator is alright for simple math, once I realized that the pound key (#) gives a decimal (.). The little hint on the screen that tells you that makes it look like it’s going to give you a dash rather than a dot. It has one memory and a currency conversion utility. No scientific functions or anything though, so you’ll just have to remember π.

The stop watch has “snapshot”, which makes timing a series of things very easy. Games include Sudoku and Tetris. What more games could you want?

There is a web browser, but I’m too cheap to pay the data rates of Canadian cellular providers so I haven’t tried it. Given the screen size on the W233, I’d rather just boot up the Aspire One if I want to do anything online anyway.

All in all I’m quite happy with the Motorola W233 Renew. It seems like they were thinking about the user when they designed this phone. The user who mainly wants a phone that works as a phone and doesn’t want to spend a fortune on it. The user who will use a few other tools from time to time and likes them to be easy to use. The user who knows there is only one planet, at least for now.